Thursday, February 03, 2005

Credibility in Journalism and Blogging

I'm not a newspaper reader. Based on my limited sampling, I think it's generation related. I don't know many folks my age that regularly read a newspaper. So how do I get the news? I look for local news highlights from morning TV when I'm getting ready for work. We'll sometimes watch CNN to get national/international news. I'm also using internet news sources more and more. And of course there is a lot of "news" or opinions being shared via blogs.

On the other hand, folks that are a generation older seem to be big newspaper readers. Older folks that I work with always read the paper. In fact, I get old newspapers from them to line our bird cages. I remember my parents always reading the local papers when I grew up. We subscribed to the local paper and my dad even worked there for awhile. It was interesting to visit him and see the linotype machines using a molten alloy, the typesetting, and the printing process. Most every week we'd pick up a Sunday paper from the Twin Cities. The best thing about the Sunday paper was the color comics. Who hasn't used Silly Putty to stretch Snoopy or Dagwood into odd shapes?

No matter how you get your news, there's always a question about credibility. The maxim "you can't believe everything you read in the newspaper" can readily be extended to on-line sources like blogs (except this one of course).

The folks at ZDNet demonstrated an interesting idea in an attempt to improve credibility. A reported wrote a story that included quotes from one of the pioneers of blogging -- Radio Userland's Scott Young. While researching the article, the reporter recorded the complete interview with Mr. Young. As a supportive piece to the article, the reporter podcasted the interview. When he quoted Young in the written article, he included time stamps corresponding to the quote. The idea is if you wanted some context around the quotation, you could go to the podcast and listen to that portion of the interview. Presumably this increases transparency and lends credibility to the article. The reporter's commentary on the process is here.

Combining the podcast with a traditional written summary is an interesting idea. However, I'm sure there will be discussions around confidentiality and other issues of protecting sources.

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